Regardless of where you stand on the debate currently raging over school discipline, one thing seems certain: Self-discipline is far better than the externally imposed kind.
Over the years, Catholic schools have been particularly committed to the formation of sound character, including the acquisition of self-discipline. But how well has that worked? We wanted to know whether students in Catholic school actually exhibit more self-discipline than their peers—and if so, what those schools can teach other public and private schools about how it can be fostered.
To lead the study, we recruited Michael Gottfried, Associate Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). Jacob Kirksey, a doctoral student at UCSB, helped to analyze the data and co-wrote the report. To our knowledge, theirs is the first study to explore the potential effects of Catholic schooling on elementary students' self-discipline.
Gottfried and Kirksey analyzed two waves of nationally representative data on elementary school students that were collected as part of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten (ECLS-K).
Their analysis revealed three key findings. 
  1. Students in Catholic schools are less likely to act out or be disruptive than those in other private schools or in public schools. According
  2. ...

As people in Sciotoville tell it, their children historically have gotten Portsmouth’s leftovers—from textbooks to sports uniforms and more. That belief, they say, was the impetus for creating Sciotoville’s two start-up charter public schools.

Sciotoville East Community Schools are unique among charter public schools in Ohio. Serving students and their families from Appalachia, they are two of the very small number of charters located outside of the state’s urban communities. They illustrate what’s possible when educators, families, and an entire community come together to save their schools by transforming them into public charter schools.

This profile of the staff, students, and families of one of these schools—Sciotoville Elementary Academy—will show you an entirely new view of what charters can do to meet the needs of their communities, and why we need more of them in rural areas.

2016–17 was one of the slowest-growth years for charter schools in recent memory. Nobody knows exactly why, but one hypothesis is saturation: With charters having achieved market share of over 20 percent in more than three dozen cities, perhaps school supply is starting to meet parental demand, making new charters less necessary and harder to launch. If so, perhaps it’s time to look for new frontiers, especially if we want more children to enjoy the benefits of high-quality charters.

One option is to start more charter schools in affluent communities, which we surely support. But we couldn’t help but wonder: Are we overlooking neighborhoods in America that are already home to plenty of poor kids, and contain the population density necessary to make school choice work, but lack charter school options? Especially communities in the inner-ring suburbs of flourishing cities, which increasingly are becoming magnets for poor and working-class families priced out of gentrifying areas?

That’s the question that this report and its accompanying website address. The study, led by Miami University (of Ohio) Assistant Professor Andrew Saultz, analyzes the distribution of charter elementary schools across the country to provide parents, policymakers, and educators with information about which high and...

Education will always be one of Ohio’s highest priorities. It bonds communities together, provides the foundation for the state’s long-term economic success, and—most importantly—helps students across the state to realize their potential and pursue their dreams.

Data is imperative to understanding Ohio’s education policies, practices, and outcomes—both at a state level and locally. This guidebook offers simple and easy-to-use vital statistics about Ohio’s schools and the students they serve. The facts and figures contained within this report offer an overview of who Ohio’s students are; where they go to school; how they perform on national and state exams; and how many pursue post-secondary education. In addition, we present a few key statistics on Ohio’s educators, and how much Ohio taxpayers contribute to K-12 education and how those dollars are spent.

For those preferring a web version, try out

The 2017 edition of Ohio Education By the Numbers can be accessed here.

Schools have long failed to cultivate the innate talents of many of their young people, particularly high-ability girls and boys from disadvantaged and minority backgrounds. This failure harms the economy, widens income gaps, arrests upward mobility, and exacerbates civic decay and political division.

To address these issues, researchers Christopher Yaluma and Adam Tyner examined the extent to which access to and participation in gifted programs vary for different groups of students nationally and in each state, particularly in high-poverty schools. Here’s what they found:
  • More than two-thirds of elementary and middle schools have gifted programs.
  • Overall, high-poverty schools are just as likely as low-poverty schools to have them.
  • Yet students in low-poverty schools are more than twice as likely to participate in such programs.
  • Even when black and Hispanic students have gifted programs in their elementary and middle schools, they participate at much lower rates than their peers. 
  • In schools with gifted programs, only Maryland, Kentucky, and New Hampshire enroll more than 10 percent of the state’s black and Hispanic students in those programs; in twenty-two states it’s less than 5 percent.

Increasing the participation of qualified yet underrepresented students in gifted programming...

For more than a decade, Ohio’s annual school report cards have offered the public information on school quality. The current iteration of report cards has notable strengths: School ratings are grounded in hard data, they use an intuitive A-F rating system, and several of the metrics encourage schools to pay attention to the achievement of all students.

Yet as the state has phased in new components over recent years, report cards have become increasingly complex and many of the metrics are strongly correlated with students’ background characteristics. Fordham’s latest report, Back to the Basics, suggests significant changes that would reduce the complexity of the report cards—aiding comprehension—and would produce ratings that are fairer to schools of all poverty levels.

To improve report cards, the paper offers three key recommendations:

  • Reduce the number of A-F grades. Ohio report cards now include fourteen letter grades—and soon to be fifteen as an overall rating comes out in 2018. Legislators should reduce the number of ratings to six: an overall grade plus five component ratings—Achievement, Progress, Graduation, Prepared for Success, and Equity.
  • Overhaul the Gap Closing component and rename it Equity. Gap Closing gauges the performance of subgroups, including students with disabilities, race/ethnic groups,
  • ...
One important question about school discipline is whether it helps or harms those being disciplined. But a second, equally important question is whether a push to reduce the number of suspensions is harmful to the rule-abiding majority.
This study examines outcomes in the School District of Philadelphia (SDP), which made dramatic changes to its code of conduct during the 2012–13 school year. Specifically, it instituted a new ban on out-of-school suspensions (OSS) for low-level “conduct” offenses—such as profanity or failure to follow classroom rules—and reduced the length of OSS for more serious infractions. To gauge the impacts of these changes, Matthew Steinberg (University of Pennsylvania) and Johanna Lacoe (Mathematica) examined data before and after they were implemented, and penned two scholarly papers: one that focuses on the district-level effects of the change in discipline policy, and a second that explores patterns of attendance and achievement at the school, grade, and individual levels.
Here we combine those papers and synthesize their key findings for a lay audience, which include:
  • Changes in district policy had no long-term impact on the number of low-level “conduct” suspensions, and most schools did not comply with the ban on such suspensions.
  • Changes in district
  • ...
The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation’s sponsorship annual report highlights our work with eleven schools that served 4,150 students in five Ohio cities during the 2016-17 school year. We value this opportunity to keep stakeholders and the public informed about our efforts, and provide information on each of the schools that we sponsor.
Additionally, the report highlights our most significant research projects of our sister organization, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, over the past year.
Our goal is to provide a transparent look at the performance of our portfolio of schools. We hope that you find the report informative.

The Every Student Succeeds Act grants states more authority over their accountability systems than did No Child Left Behind, but have they seized the opportunity to develop school ratings that are clearer and fairer than those in the past? Our new analysis examines the plans submitted by all fifty states and the District of Columbia, and whether they are strong or weak (or in-between) in achieving three objectives:

  1. Assigning annual ratings to schools that are clear and intuitive for parents, educators, and the public;

  2. Encouraging schools to focus on all students, not just their low performers; and

  3. Fairly measuring and judging all schools, including those with high rates of poverty.

Key findings include:

  • Thirty-five states—69 percent—received a “strong” grade for using clear and intuitive ratings such as A–F grades, five-star ratings, or user-friendly numerical systems. These labels immediately convey to all observers how well a given school is performing, and is a major improvement over the often Orwellian school ratings of the NCLB era.

  • The country is also doing much better in signaling that every child is important, not just the “bubble kids” near the proficiency cut-off. Twenty-three states

  • ...

Research confirms what common sense dictates: Students learn less when their teachers aren’t there. According to multiple studies, a ten-day increase in teacher absence results in at least ten fewer days of learning for students.

Clearly, some absences are unavoidable—teachers are only human. But compared to their counterparts in other industries and other countries, U.S. teachers seem to have poor attendance. On average, they miss about eight school days a year due to sick and personal leave (in addition to the breaks they get for school vacations and national holidays); meanwhile, the average US worker takes about three-and-a-half sick days a year. Yet the first of these averages obscures the degree to which absenteeism is concentrated among a subset of teachers.

In Teacher Absenteeism in Charter and Traditional Public Schools, Fordham senior research and policy associate David Griffith takes an unprecedented look at teacher chronic absenteeism rates in charter and traditional public schools—that is, the percentage of teachers who miss at least eleven days of school, excluding professional development days and field trips.His major findings include the following:

  • Nationally, teachers in traditional public schools are almost three times as likely to be chronically absent as teachers in charter schools:

  • ...